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BMW Goes X-tra Large and Seven Up

BMW is not a brand that does things by halves. Rather than putting a toe in the water, the iconic German brand jumps in. In the passenger vehicle segment it’s “lacked” one entrant and that has now been resolved with the release of the X7 range. It’ll go up against the Volvo XC90, Audi’s Q7, Porsche’s Cayenne, and VW’s Touareg. BMW also don’t tag this 5151mm long machine as an SUV. It’s a SAV, a Sports Activity Vehicle.The X7 will offer a choice of six or seven seats, with the third row a confirmed two seat configuration. That third row will have cup holders, separate USB points, and armrests. The middle row can be specified with two or three seats, and all seats are power adjustable. Sitting on a wheelbase of 3105mm, the X7 offers a cargo capacity variance of between 326L to 2120L. To take advantage of the space available, the X7 goes on a luxury cruise with Vernasca leather as standard, four zone climate control, a three part panoramic roof, and a high end ambient light system. BMW never skimps on the option list either, with a five zone climate control system, a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Select audio system, an an entertainment system for the rear seat passengers. BMW’s M Sport package and the Design Pure Excellence equipment line are also offered.Choosing an engine won’t be hard. At launch a a 340 kW/462 hp petrol V8 in the BMW X7 xDrive50i will be available although not available in Europe. The xDrive40i will receive a six-cylinder in-line petrol unit with an output of 250 kW/340 hp and a rated combined fuel consumption at 9.0 – 8.7 l/100 km. The X7 xDrive 30d will be powered by a pair of six-cylinder in-line diesels with outputs of 195 kW/265 hp. Fuel consumption for a combined cycle is rated at 6.8 – 6.5 l/100 km with CO2 emissions combined: 178 – 171 g/km) and 294 kW/400 hp in the BMW X7 M50d. The quoted fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 7.4 – 7.0 l/100 km with CO2 emissions combined: 193 – 185 g/km). All of the power units in the line-up meet the requirements of the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard.

Every powerplant will be bolted to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The BMW xDrive intelligent all wheel drive system, complete with optimised efficiency and rear-biased set-up, is how the power and torque gets to tarmac or dirt. Ensuring even more dynamic handling is the M Sport differential at the rear axle, which brings electronically controlled locking. It is fitted as standard on the BMW X7 M50d and as an option on the BMW X7 xDrive50i and BMW X7 xDrive40i.The chassis tech is typical high end BMW. There’s Adaptive Suspension and electronically controlled dampers, air fed springs and an adjustable ride height of up to 80mm. Extra suspension ability can be optioned, such as Integral Active Steering, and the Executive Drive Pro system. An off road option package can be specced for all models bar the M50D. A four mode drive system includes xSands, xGravel, xRocks, and xSnow. The selection of each mode has the X7 adjust automatically for ride height, transmission response, and the stability control systems.

Active Cruise Control with Stop/Start is standard however BMW offers the Driving Assistant Professional package that features steering and lane control assistance, Lane Change Warning and Lance Departure Assistance, and even a side collision warning system. Traffic assistance comes in the form of wrong way alert, cross traffic warning and BMW’s priority warning system.

The driver has two 12.3 inch full colour digital screens with which to work with. There’s a binnacle display and a control display in the centre upper dash with the pair being called by BMW the Live Cockpit Professional system. An Intelligent Personal Assistant is voice activated and software can be updated remotely.

Finally, BMW stamp their authority on the luxury SAV segment with an imposing exterior design. With a width of 2000m and a height of 1805mm, the X& is one of the bigger types of its segment. The traditional kidney grille design is even more imposing and is flanked by a pair of full LED lit headlights. Optionable Laserlight headlights can illuminate at a range of up to 600 metres on high beam. A two section tailgate is flanked by stylish LED powered lights.

Contact your local BMW dealer for more information.

Holden’s New Big Acadia Arrives

Holden has released details about their new, fully North American built, large SUV. The Acadia is a dedicated seven seater and is powered by a 231kW/367Nm 3.6L V6. There will be no skimping on safety features either, with the Acadia featuring: Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, Following Distance Indicator, Automatic High Beam Assist, Safety Seat Alert, Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning, Lateral Impact Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Parking Assist.TSR or Traffic Sign Recognition is a new feature. Holden says they have had an engineering team perform tests within tens of thousands of kilonetres worth of testing. This has enabled the TSR system to be sophisticated enough to recognise the variance in signs throughout Australia, which also highlights the lack of commonality in signage across the country.

There will be Holden’s next generation eight inch touchscreen plus, for all three rows of seats, fast charging USB ports, suitable for the current generation of smartphones and tablets. There’s some smart tech on board and aimed at people that will utilise the Acadia’s 2000kg towing ability. Hitch Guidance and Hitch View allows a driver to line up the Acadia using the reverse camera, plus there’s a program for the nine speed automatic transmission called Tow Haul. This changes the shifting characteristics of the shift patterns whilst driving and towing.Inside the Acadia will be clever storage solutions such as adjustable fore and aft position for the middle row, a console drawer for the second row, a storage bin in the rear, and just in case the parents have a brain fade, an alert system for the rear seats.The V6 is rated at a reasonable 8.9L/100km on a two wheel drive system, and increases barely to 9.3L/100km in four wheel drive. Thankfully it’ll run on standard unleaded, a handy thing with the expansion of Australia’s fuel prices. That’s helped by Stop/Start and AFM or Active Fuel Management as standard.

Suspension is the tried and true McPherson strut front and the five link rear end, tuned and fettled by Holden in testing on roads and at the Lang Lang grounds.

Pricing starts from $42,990 plus on-roads with the Acadia LT 2WD. the AWD LT clocks in at $46,990 plus on-roads. Move up to the LTZ 2WD and there’s $53,990 plus on-roads or $57,990 plus on-roads for the LTZ AWD. The top of the range LTZ-V 2WD is $63,990 and hits the ceiling at $67,990 for the AWD, again with on-roads to be added.Here is where you can find out more and book a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Toyota Kluger Grande and GXL.

In a previous life, I attended the Perth launch of a newcomer to the Toyota family. Called Kluger, it was a squarish, slightly blocky, petrol only, mid-sized SUV. Fifteen plus years later the Kluger remains petrol only, still has a squarish and blocky design, and not far off in size of the Land Cruiser. AWT spent a week with the top of the range Grande and mid-level GXL, with the Grande seeing the countryside whilst the GXL did what it’s designed for. The urban lifestyle run. There’s a big price difference though, with the GXL in the mid $50K range and a huge $10K less than the Grande.The standard engine is a 3.5L V6, producing 218kW, and a surprising 350 torques. Surprising because, in context, it’s the same amount as that produced by a turbo-charged 2.0L petrol engine. As a result, urban fuel economy is less that inviting, with the GXL not seeing a figure below 11.0L per 100km at any stage. The Grande is a different story; the dash display didn’t appear to show a consumption figure however we managed a reasonable half tank from the lower Blue Mountains to Cooma. This consumption stayed consistent from Cooma to Bega, back to Cooma, and then Sydney.Sole transmission option is an eight speed auto. In the GXL this drives the front wheels and the Grande is an AWD system, driving the fronts but splits torque rearward on demand. The driver’s dash screen shows this in a graphic, and it’s kinda interesting to watch from the eye’s corner when starting forward, be it a hard or soft launch. The Grande suffers in comparison to the GXL in this area. When punched the GXL will move with a decent measure of alacrity and will chirp the front tyres. The GXL around town also has a slightly better ride, with a more supple appeal thanks to the slightly higher sidewalls. The Grande is sluggish off the line, with a feeling of needing more effort to have both front and rear wheels gripping. The eight speed auto in both is…..adequate, to be polite. Cold they were indecisive off the line, and when warmed up were somewhat archaic in their change feel. Think the early four or five speed autos when one cog was finished and there was a yawning gap until the next one engaged. An exaggeration of sorts, yes, but needed to paint the picture.The weapon of choice for the six hour country drive was the Grande over the Holden Calais Tourer. According to the junior team members of the review team it was the roof mounted blu-ray player (complete with SD card input) that won the contest. There are four wireless headphones and they sound fantastic. The screen itself, naturally, isn’t blu-ray quality but the fact Toyota offers that kind of playback is a bonus. Having rear aircon and the controls at the rear of the centre console is also a bonus as the controls are both fan speed and temperature independent of the front seats. The middle seat rows are tilt and fold which allows access to the simple pull-strap operated third row seats. Or one could enter via the power operated tailgate. The Grande has an extra family friendly feature for those that use wireless charging smartphones too. Adding to the family persuasion is a plethora of cup and bottle holders throughout the cabin plus a DAB or digital audio broadcast tuner. The latter had an oddity in that it would pick up signal in areas some other cars don’t but when it lost signal it was almost painfully slow to regain it.

Actual fit and finish in the Klugers is starting to lack visual appeal. The dash design is somewhat chaotic with blocks rather than an organic look. Somehow, after a while, it seems to work. Of note is the centre of driver’s binnacle info screen. In typical Toyota fashion it’s initially a little confusing to look at, but once a few flicks of the tabs on the tiller have been performed, the info such as which safety aids are being used or how much traction is being apportioned, becomes easily accessible instinctively. Powered seats make finding the right seating position to read the screen easy, and in the Grande they’re both heated and vented via a pair of utterly simple to use roller dials. They’re coloured red and blue left and right of the centre point and have three settings to choose from. The GXL ditches the venting and goes to slightly less attractive roller dials to activate the heating side.The actual driving position is comfortable in the seats but the tiller felt a bit narrow to the fingers. All round view is very good and with broad side mirrors the Blind Spot Alert system was almost not needed. Almost. On the highway heading east from Cooma to Bega, some of the roads narrow and there are opportunities for a lack of safety of this form to lead to issues thanks to drivers that believe themselves to be better than they are. Suffice to say the Blind Sport Alert system can be a life saver. Safety wise there’s really not a lot between the Grande and GXL, with Toyota‘s Safety Sense. Pedestrian friendly collision warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Alert, and seven airbags are aboard.The Grande turned out to be a decent country tourer. Under way and at cruising speed, it ticks over at the freeway speed at close to 2,000rpm. Toyo supplies the (specially supplied for Kluger Grande) Open Country 245/55/19 rubber on the Grande and Michelin the 245/60/18s for the GXL. Both exhibit a sometimes uncomfortable measure of road noise, especially on the coarser chip surfaces south of Canberra. The dearth of torque at low revs was always apparent though. That peak amount is at 4700rpm, and it was enough at times to feel the gearbox move to seventh to eighth to seventh in order to try and utilise what was available. It was also noticeable when uphill runs or an overtake were required, with a steady drop through the ratios. On the road the steering was never comfortable though, with a somewhat numb on-centre feel and with more weight than expected. However it doesn’t tax the body and with a stop every two hours or so, a driver can exit the car feeling a bare minimum of driving fatigue.The exterior design is also starting to look out of date in comparison to both Toyota’s own design ethos and in respect to the opposition. It’s still a squarish, angular look, which at least matches the dash. The front features an inverted triangular motif and isn’t overly chromed. Eagle-eye headlights with LED driving lights balance a similar look at the rear. Alongside the latest from Korea the Klugers look heavy, tired, and nowhere as slippery.The Klugers also come with just a three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty, another area that other companies are rapidly changing. Roadside assistance is a 24/7 owner service, however.

At The End Of The Drive.
Quite simply the Toyota Kluger GXL is the better value bet. There really is simply not enough between the Grande and GXL to justify the extra ten thousand, blu-ray and all wheel drive system included. Neither will see any dirt action apart from the front lawn either. The styling is fading, inside and out, however it’s fair to presume, having seen the new Camry and Corolla, that a redesign is on the boards at Toyota HQ.

Having no diesel option, unlike the Sorento or Santa Fe, leaves people looking at the HiLux or Fortuner, Toyota’s almost invisible machine. Or there are Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport, Holden’s Trailblazer, Ford’s Everest, to consider, or offerings from Volvo, Audi, VW…Take it for a test drive yourself and check out the range here

Mercedes-Benz EQC Unveiled and Mitsubishi ASX Updates.

It’d be fair to say that Tesla has been seen as an innovator when it comes to the fully battery powered car. Their Model X is a beautiful example of practicality, being a large and roomy people mover, with no challengers. Until now. Mercedes-Benz, an originator of the electric car, first put forward a concept of a people mover powered by electricity at the Paris Motor Show. That concept has now been released as a working version under a new branding, EQ. Known as the EQC, this SUV styled machine is powered by a pair of motors, one each for the front and rear combining to produce 300kW. Consumption is rated at 22.2 kiloWatt hours per 100 kilometres driven.Peak torque is quoted as 765Nm, and top speed is limited to 180km/h. Range is said to be 450 kilometres which of course will depend on driving conditions. It’ll be a hefty beast though, with a kerb weight of 2425 kilos for the 4761mm long machine. Gross Vehicle Mass for the 1884mm (sans mirrors) wide and 1624mm high EQC is 2930 kilos, with the battery pack making up 650 kilograms of that. However there’s enough oomph to get the EQC to 100km/h in a breath over five seconds.

Charging is courtesy of an on-board charger that is capable of delivering 7.4kW, making it AC home charging compatible. Using a M-B supplied “Wallbox” increases that by up to three times, with up to 110kW, and in forty minutes from nearly empty up to eighty percent.Styling is a mix of standard high riding SUV, a sloping rear roofline to add a bit of coupe, and a standout front panel in black. This encloses the headlights and a grille like structure. There’s an LED strip that borders the top of the panel that draws a line between the headlights. Design highlights inside have a ribbed edge to the instrument panel that resembles the heat exchange vanes from a music amplifier. Mercedes-Benz have ensured that the EQC will feel like a driver’s car by designing a cockpit-like feel to the cabin. Charging information can be found via the MBUX, or the Mercedes Benz User Experience. Charging current and switch off times can also be set here. MBUX will have its own tile on the screen to access EQ functions.

One of those is a form of pre-journey climate control, where the system can be activated to a certain present temperature before the vehicle is called into use for a drive. The satnav system will constantly calculate the best route based on charge time and usage plus aid in finding the best charging station on a distance basis. Pricing and release dates are yet to be confirmed.Another SUV is on its way however this is an update from an established vehicle. Mitsubishi‘s ASX has been given a freshen up and a surprising decision embedded in the update. There will be no diesels in the three model range, with a 2.0L petrol fed power plant as standard instead. Another surprising change is the move away from an AWD option to a purely front wheel driven system. Only one option will have a manual and that’s the entry level ASX ES at $23,490 RRP and a CVT equipped version at $25,490 RRP. The ES can also be specced with the ADAS option.Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), along with reversing sensors, dusk sensing headlamps and rain sensing wipers. Exterior features include front fog lamps and door mirrors with side turn lamps. The ASX ES optioned with Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) will have a recommended retail pricing of $26,990. The LS is $27,990 RRP with the top level Exceed well priced at just $30,990 RRP.

All vehicles will have DAB audio, seven airbags, smartphone compatibility, a minimum of two USB ports, reverse camera, and two ISOFIX child seat mounts. The LS adds Forward Collision Mitigation, two tone alloys, auto high beam, leather accented seats, and auto headlights & wipers. The Exceed takes this list further with heated front seats, six speaker sound system, the ADAS as standard, plus a glass roof.Check with your local Mitsubishi dealer for availability.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Pajero Sport GLX

Once upon a time there was the Mitsubishi Triton. Then came the rise of the SUV. Enter, stage left, the Mitsubishi Challenger, a family wagon based on the Triton. Time passes, and now the Challenger is called the Pajero Sport. It’s still based on the Triton, and in GLX form it’s a basic yet comfortable machine. At the time of review it was priced in the mid $40K bracket driveaway.Power is provided by a slightly agricultural sounding diesel with a 2.4L capacity packing 133kW and 430Nm. The useable driving rev range is from 1000 rpm to 2500 rpm and off throttle it’s quiet enough. On throttle and it evokes the diesel rattle of the 1980s. The eight speed auto that’s standard across the range is slick enough however did exhibit some thumps and a jolt, a mild one yes, but a jolt when shifting between Park, Drive, Reverse. It’s not a deal breaker as it’s otherwise a good performer. There’s typical turbo lag, though, from standstill, and perhaps just a little too much of it. Packing 430Nm it’s a little less than others but it’s not all that obvious though. Punch it at highway revs and there’s plenty of torque through the auto to get the Pajero Sport up and hustling. From a standstill, and once the turbo has overcome the lag, it’ll launch well enough in 2WD, and just a little more so in 4WD high range.Mitsubishi has a great economy system. There’s the mandated urban, highway, and combined figures that the government has for all cars, but Mitsubishi is one of a very small number that shows the change of economy depending on how the car is driven, on the fly. Around town the Pajero Sport GLX hovered between ten and eleven litres per one hundred kilometres, but move to the freeway and you can see the economy rate improving, to a final figure of 7.9L/100km. The dash binnacle has a colour LCD screen with a five leaf logo, and it’s here that the driver’s indication of how “eco” they are is on display.The Pajero Sport is a big machine. In GLX form there’s plenty of rear room. Why? It’s a five seater. What this means is that you could fold up a small apartment block, whack it into the cargo area, and still have space for a Great Dane. And an elephant. There’s no skimping on head, leg, and shoulder room either, even with high set seats. Being Triton based does mean it’s a little on the thin side compared to its opposition but there’s ample space for two in the rear seat. The cloth seats are covered in a pleasant weave, are well padded, however there’s a “something” in the right side of the driver’s squab that continually pushed into the thigh when disembarking. It’s also only a manually adjustable seat, meaning that it’s fiddly to get just the right spot.It’s a simple layout for the GLX. No dual zone aircon, an uncluttered look inside, muted shades of black and grey, and a cleanly laid out seven inch touchscreen but the menu system isn’t intuitive for someone that may not be tech-savvy. Apple and Android compatibility is here, naturally, and needed as there isn’t onboard satnav. Surprisingly, also here is DAB or digital audio. It’s a pity that the sound quality was flat and compressed, even after adjusting the sound parameters. Other switch gear is generic Mitsubishi but they’ve managed to have a better look and feel than some competitors in the same market. Being the entry level means there’s spots in the dash that in higher grades have buttons, and although it’s a cost effective measure it looks a bit second rate.Nowadays the call is for USB and 12V sockets to be more available and the Pajero Sport GLX delivers here with four USBs spread between front and rear seat passengers, a 12V in the front, rear, and in the cargo section, and there’s even a three pin plug hidden away in the interior. Red back-lighting is in the tabs and buttons and it looks fab but the icons and fonts being lit tend towards the harder to read side of things. And being entry level it dips out on items like auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, and perhaps a luxury touch by no powered tail gate.It’s a well mannered beast on tarmac, but there’s an odd feeling to the steering rack. Imagine, if you will, a thick rod of lightly pliable rubber. Place either end in the hands and twist, feeling the resistance build. That’s effectively how the steering feels. There’s a full ninety degrees of turn required before there’s a semblance of directional change, meaning there’s some forward planning required for moving left or right. Forward planning is also required for the brakes. There little feel and bite for the stoppers.The Pajero Sport comes with the Terrain Select four wheel drive system. One can dial up two wheel or four wheel drive in high range, or low range with Mud, Gravel, Snow, for some decent dirty excursioning. The Blue Mountains are blessed with numerous tracks suitable for trialing a four wheel drive car, and the Pajero Sport didn’t disappoint. High range modes are swappable up to one hundred kilometres per hour but that’s not recommended at those velocities. The car must be at standstill and in Neutral for the low range options. There are also driving aids for off road work such as Hill Descent Control. This applies the brakes judiciously and for the most part is more than adequate.The GLX’s suspension tune is a compromise, by the car’s user nature, with a hard, quick reacting, feel on tarmac, but a slow and easy slide off road. Driven at velocities of no more than forty kph the ride soaks up the natural irregular surfaces without excessive transmission of those to the cabin. Hit the light reflectors on the highway at the posted speed and that change to bang bang bang is immediately noticeable.Although there’s a ride clearance of 218 mm the Pajero Sport feels like it could do with another ten to twenty. There’s ample approach, departure, wading, and break-over angles (30 degrees, 24 degrees, 700mm, and 23 degrees), and they’re of a level that would be barely explored by the vast majority of buyers. For those that do want to go hard, perhaps a different tyre to the Bridgestone Dueler 265/60/18s fitted may be an option, as they did slip a few times in some sections of the off-road track.Although it’s the bottom of the ladder version there’s still enough mandated safety features to please. Forward Collision Alert is here and it’s a mite sensitive in certain situations, throwing up a false positive and startling the driver. Reverse Camera and guidance is standard, as are parking sensors front and rear. Airbags all around plus the normal traction control features round out the safety package.There’s a limited colour choice for the Pajero Sport, with just four available. The test car was in a colour called Terra Rossa, with metallic paint a $590 option. Warranty is fives years or 100, 000 kilometres. Roadside assist is free for the first twelve months and Mitsubishi offers three years of capped-price servicing at a total cost of $1425 on a 12-month/15,000km schedule.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Pajero Sport suffers from an insidious disease called invisibility. With the advent of SUVs such as Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Tucson, Kia’s Sorento and Sportage, and the like, the need for a high riding, multiple passenger carrying, vehicle based on a four door ute, is declining.

Bespoke designs such as Mitsubishi’s own ASX and Outlander are seen as the preferred alternative by people whose camping lifestyle is sparkling wine and portable gas barbies, not beer cooled in a stream and snaggers cooked over an open fire. But its boofy ute based nature will suit the latter, and for that we remain thankful that cars like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX remain available.

Go here to build your 2019 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Unveiled At “The Quail”.

There are car shows and there are car shows. And then there is “The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering“, possibly the world’s premium display of new and classic automobiles. Held as part of the Monterey Car Week in California, where brands use the event to showcase the latest in development, Lamborghini has this year done so to showcase the latest in the Aventador family. Labelled the SVJ, which comes from Superveloce and Jota, it’s already conquered the Nürburgring-Nordschleife with a time of 6:44.97 for the 20.4 kilometre circuit. Fast is the word, as in get in fast, as Lamborghini will limit production to just 900 units worldwide.

Even more limited is the SVJ63. Built to commemorate the year of 1963, the year Lamborghini was founded, just 63 will be made. Featuring an extensive use of carbon fibre, the SVJ63 also has added aerodynamic bodywork to take advantage of the updated 770hp V12. Here’s what will be available.

Drive: all wheel drive and all wheel steering.
Speed: 0-100 km/h 2.8 seconds. Top speed over 350 km/h.
Power: 770hp/566kW, 8500rpm.
Torque: 720Nm, 6750rpm.
Transmission: seven speed auto.
Body: a wider front bumper, integrated side fins, new air intake, and ALA, Lamborghini’s Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva, their active aero package. The front splitter has been visually disconnected from the body, providing a floating look to the part. A scallop in the bonnet aids in airflow re-direction, improving both drag and downforce. The rear wing with new winglets, valance, and larger side air intakes combine with a redesigned under-tray to provide, along with resculpted roof panels, a 70% better contribution to the overall change in downforce.
Extra bodywork: a redesigned engine cover with a Y motif is manufactured from carbon fibre and can be removed easily thanks to motorsport style quick release clips.
Wheels:‘Nireo’ superlightweight alloy with optional ‘Leirion’ aluminum rims with ‘Y’ and hexagonal details will be available.

Active assistance: ALA is now version 2.0, which incorporates the bodywork changes and updated software to take into consideration the extra driving ability. Flaps and vents in the bodywork are moved via the ALA programming, with “On” opening the front flaps, reducing air pressure, and directing airflow underneath the SVJ. “Off” closes flaps at the rear and allows the massive erar wing to do its job unassisted. There’s also directional channels in the wing’s horizontal surface to assist in high speed cornering.Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Attiva 2.0 (LDVA 2.0) activates in under a half second with input from external sensors. This includes activating the ALA system in the wing depending on the direction of a turn, increasing downforce and traction on the inside wheel. This has the added effect of reducing load transfer.

Engineering Tech: new titanium intake valves and the cylinder head has been modified to assist the air flow coefficient. The suspension has better mechanical and aerodynamic grip, and a revamped stabiliser bar has an extra fifty percent stiffness compared to the SV Aventador. Lamborghini’s Magneto Rheological Suspension (LMS) has been recalibrated for better sensitivity and partners with the rear wheel steering for even more precise handling. The front end has been recalibrated as well, with more feedback and precision engineered in.
With the better overall chassis structure and handling, the drive train’s torque split system also needed work. There’s an extra 3% of the torque available now being sent to the rear end as a result. To take even more advantage of these, high spec Pirelli P Zero Corsa has been developed and fitted.

Deliveries are due to start in early 2019 with prices: Europe: EUR 349,116.00 (Taxes Excluded ), UK: GBP 291,667.00 (Taxes Excluded ), USA: USD 517,770.00 (GGT Included), China: RMB 7,559,285.00 (Taxes Included), Japan: YEN 51,548,373.00 (Taxes Excluded ).

Update: prices were released for Australia and New Zealand on August 31st, and they’re sure to raise eyebrows. AUD 949,640 (including taxes) + on road costs with New Zealand: NZD 818,864 (including taxes) + on road costs.

2019 Holden Colorado LTZ

Holden‘s Colorado is a solid competitor in the 2 and 4 wheel drive ute market, Up against the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Nissan Navara it provides a worthy alternative, especially in the three key areas: payload, torque, and towing. We drive the four door 4WD capable LTZ and visit a hidden secret in the massive and beautiful Megalong Valley.The Colorado has a 2.8L diesel engine. Badged Duramax it has a peak power output of 147kW at 3600rpm, but it’s the 500 torques from the twin cam four valve engine that’s the appeal.That’s an an eminently useable 2000rpm for the auto, with 440Nm available for the manual versions. Tank capacity is 76L and unfortunately it’s needed. The 5361mm long machine is no lightweight with a gross vehicle mass of 3150kg and a kerb weight of 2128kg with economy finishing on a surprisingly high 11.1L/100km.Being a smallish diesel that 500Nm is pretty impressive. Consider the 3.2L diesel in Ford’s Ranger, that’s 470Nm and the same kilowattage. Nissan’s Navara produces 450Nm across the range of 1500-2500rpm. The smoothness of the drive-train is also impressive, with only a few hints of indecisiveness under way, and it holds gears on long downhill runs. It’s a reasonable puller on and off road, with tarmac drive manners subtle, restrained, and perhaps just a little slower than likeable off the line. Mid-range drive is understandably better and there’s a smooth progression though the gears, albeit with more noise up front than some others.Take it off road, onto some unsettled and rutted limestone style tracks, with gravel and marble sized coverings such as that found on the entry road to the beautifully located Dryridge Estate. This is at the far southern end of the Megalong Valley road, a twenty or so minute drive from Blackheath in the western fringes of the Blue Mountains. It’s a surface that needs the Colorado in 4WD to alleviate a loose tail end as in 2WD a loss of traction was not uncommon. 4WD High Range solved that and instantly the confidence level of the LTZ Colorado improved. Blind, tight, turns in 2WD had the pucker factor dialed up, but in 4WD the grip level hauled the big machine around and with nary a hint of fuss. For low range work a centre console dial is all that is needed. As there’s a proper mechanical transfer case on board the Colorado must be stationary before engaging 4WD low range though.The Colorado LTZ has the typical spongy ride of a 4WD capable ute, not least in part thanks to the big rubber underneath. Bridgestone and Holden have had a long relationship and the Dueler H/T 235/60/18 is no stranger to the brand. The relatively high sidewall and softish compound add extra bounce and also does aid absorption of some of the smaller ruts and ripples found on tarmac and these gravelly surfaces.The steering ratio and the feel itself are better tuned than some others. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport stands out as one with a more rubber cord twisted feel left to right and back. The Colorado is more agile and nuanced in its feel. On the run down to Dryridge Estate the need for a tighter ratio and feedback is crucial. The road is shrouded in shadow for most of the day and some of those coat the more difficult to negotiate turns downhill. Here that response time and need to have a communicative steering is important and the Colorado LTZ delivers. On the gravel into Dryridge Estate the steering provided plenty of feedback too, with some of the ruts grabbing the front tyres and with the lack of freeplay the steering lets the driver know.Sadly it’s inside where it doesn’t. It’s generic GM and it’s frankly boring. The switchgear, the texture to the plastics, the reflection of the upper dash into the windscreen, and the driver’s binnacle are all without appeal. A word in certain levels that suits is “meh”. The seats are covered in cloth and the weave is a dullish dark grey print. The steering wheel is slabby and isn’t helped by the muted tones of the rest of the interior trim. The dual zone climate control controls look the same as any in the GM family, but there are a couple of upsides. There’s Digital Audio Broadcast radio, otherwise known as DAB. The tuner in the LTZ performed well compared to others, with its sensitivity to the digital signal quite high. Sound quality was also good and the equalf of of some more expensive vehicles through the multi-speaker system. There’s also a plus for the amount of leg/head/shoulder room, app connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the embedded apps too.There’s a soft tonneau cover fitted to the test car, and it’s a simple hook and loop system to remove or fit. The tub itself is huge and at 1790mm long, 1122mm wide between the arches, it’ll be capable of holding enough cargo to suit many applications. Towing is also class leading at 3500kg. Colour range is reasonable with the test car clad in Absolute Red, with silver, black, blue, white, silver, and a brown called Auburn Brown available.

Safety isn’t overlooked and it’s a solid list from the Colorado LTZ. Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, seven airbags including drivers knee kick it off. Tyre pressure monitoring is here as is the full traction control suite of electronic assistance programs plus front and rear park assist. Reverse camera at the rear and LED driving lights up front add to the safety factor. It’s family friendly with ISOFIX seat mounts too. Other family items such as a rear seat passenger friendly 12V socket, driver’s foot rest, and keyless remote start are welcome additions.

At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing Holden are offering a drive-away price of $49,990 for the Colorado LTZ. That’s for the manual version. It’s $51,990 for the auto version as tested. There’s also a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty to back that up. Five years worth of roadside assistance is included. The first seven services are set at a capped price. There’s some serious incentives to get into the Colorado range and the LTZ in particular. It’s a good enough drive, a tad thirstier than expected, and is seriously let down by the interior. Being a world car it has to appeal to many different markets and here is where Holden is up against getting the interior to look more appropriate for our tastes. Check it out for yourself by going to the Colorado info page

Value Up With Mitsubishi For Best Running Costs.

Mitsubishi has come out on top in a best value study looking at running costs.

According to data issued by the RACV, the Triton GLX in two and four wheel drive configuration, the big Pajero Sport GLX,  the smart-tech Outlander PHEV LS and Mirage ES all recorded the lowest running costs per week in their respective segments. This ensures that the Mitsubishi range extends its value-for-money appeal long after a customer leaves the dealership.

In the All-Terrain SUV category, the Pajero Sport GLX achieved the best-in-class result. Running costs averaged $237 per week, with the Triton GLX suggesting owners can enjoy less work and more play. It averaged running costs at just $210.99 per week for the 4×2 and $225.95 for the 4×4 drive-train.Mitsubishi’s small car, the Mirage ES, offering the lowest average running cost of just $108.78 per week. Sitting nicely in the mid-sizer SUV segment is the Outlander PHEV LS. This comfortably led the running costs charge in the EV segment at $259.22 per week.The annual running costs study assesses the cost of ownership of more than 100 vehicles in all segments over the first five years including list price, on road costs, depreciation, fuel and servicing. Costs may vary from state-to-state. Check with your local dealership for their prices then have a chat to us here at Private Fleet.

2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Petrol.

The Kia Sorento has been given a freshen up for 2019, like most of the Kia range. The changes are subtle but effective, with enhancements inside and out. I drove the 3.5L petrol drinking V6 Kia Sorento GT-Line trim, with an eight speed auto and seven seats. It’s priced at $55,490 (RRP) and came in the optional Aurora Black metallic, an extra $595.00. Peak power from the free spinning V6 is 206kW. You’ll need to drive like an F1 driver in training to use it though, as it’s on tap at 6300rpm. More sensible is the torque. There’s 336 of them but again at a high rev point, 5000rpm.

Fuel economy has been vastly improved, even though the engine is a 3.5L, up from the previously used 3.3L. The addition of a slick eight speeder helps as we finished on 8.7L/100km. What’s truly astounding is that the big car (1932kg before fuel and passengers) was driven in a predominantly urban drive loop, reflecting its intended usage. Kia quotes 14.2L/100km from the 71L tank in a urban drive and 10.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

The engine and drive-train are a well suited combination. The throttle response is instant, there’s a genuinely angry rasp from the V6 when driven hard, and the auto is 90% on song. The final two cogs, when driven at state legal urban speeds, seem unsure as to whether they were wanted or not. There’d be no real change in the engine revs however the transmission would drop or gain a gear. Smoothly, yes, but being indecisive is not a driver’s best perception for automatics.

The Sorento was also taken into an environment it normally wouldn’t see. On the mid western fringes of the Blue Mountains is Australia’s own grand canyon. There’s some great gravel roads on which to drive and the Sorento was given its head on a few of them. There’s no full time AWD system, rather a clever torque split on demand for the diesel and front wheel drive only in the petrol. There’s four drive modes to complement this too: Eco, Sports, Smart, and Comfort. Bearing mind it’s an urban warrior, the Sorento surprised with its gravel road manners.

Handling was composed, rarely skittish, and only really exhibited nervousness on some of the more broken and rutted tracks. The ABS system worked a treat on some mid-slope downhill runs, with a balanced and measured feel to the pedal itself. The steering’s weight was spot on for the light off-road style of driving, and the Comfort drive mode turned out to be the best choice for the required driving style. The Sorento is easy to drive from the throttle; back off into turns and the nose will run slightly wide, but a feather touch puts power to the front and tightens up the steering.

Tarmac driving is, naturally, the strong part of the Sorento’s presentation. It’s nippy, belying the weight it has. Although a good 4800mm in length, and packing a 2780mm wheelbase, the Sorento wraps around like a well worn glove, with only inexperienced drivers likely to feel it’s a big ‘un. There’s some serious mumbo from the V6, even with peak torque so high up the ladder rev wise. Standing start acceleration is somewhat indecent for the size and as mentioned there’s a real snarl from the V6 as it punches out in anger and the 235/55/19 rubber hooks up.

There’s little upper body movement meaning lane change stability is high. Again the steering is weighted just fine and the Sports mode is the pick for freeway driving. Eco is a touch sluggish, Comfort is an ideal mix, with Smart learning the driver’s throttle and braking inputs on the fly. Suspension tune is sportish, with a flat freeway ride, enough initial give before tightening up, and this lends itself to some good speed through tight corners and curves. Stopping isn’t a problem thanks to the 320mm front and 305mm rear vented/solid discs. There’s a niggle with the Lane Keep Assist though. It’s a little too assertive in its straightening of the wheel and was eventually disengaged.

It helps that the office space is a cool place to be in. The driver sees a combination of LCD digital and “old school” analogue instrumentation, a thoughtfully laid out dash and ancillary controls with a silver highlight, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB (more on that, shortly) and a ten year SUNA satnav update program, rear and mid row folding seats with aircon vents for both, heated mid row and front seats with venting up front, plus memory and powered seats for the front pews.

The rear seats fold flat into the floor and there is a mammoth 1662L of cargo space available. Those rear seats themselves are best suited for children or those that don’t identify as tall. The seats are highlighted with light grey stitching and there are GT-Line logos embossed into the leather. But the upper dash reflects quite visibly in the windscreen and sadly the Sorento isn’t alone on that.

It’s wonderful that Kia offer DAB audio in some of their vehicles now, however the sensitivity of the two tested (the Cerato Sport+ also has DAB and will be reviewed separately) is frankly near useless. In areas where other brands have clear and constant signal, the Sorento’s dropped out. In the same place. Every time. Although the sound quality through the ten speaker Harman Kardon system was fine when it was picking up signal, the lack of continuity in DAB was beyond frustrating. Otherwise, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, are available when a compatible smartphone is connected, or plug into the Auxiliary and USB points.

The Sorento range comes loaded with family features and is spot on for a family lifestyle drive. Six cupholders, two per seat row, start it off. Four bottle holders, a good sized centre console locker, map pockets, 3 12V sockets and a pair of USB chargers allow flexibility for smart devices. There’s no wireless charging point for compatible smart phones…yet.

The centre row passengers have sunshades in the door for both privacy and sunshade. Access to the rear seats is via the tilt and slide centre row or via the powered tailgate. Soft glow LED lights brighten up the black interior and beige/bone trimmed and highlight the two centre row mounted suit hooks. The alloy plate sill panels also brighten up with a red backlighting. All up though the Sorento, as comfortable as it is, does lack a real and measurable quotient inside: cachet. It’s still somewhat plasticky and not quite as eyeball grabbing as some Euro competition.

Family safety is assured thanks to the Sorento GT-Line’s extensive list. A high definition screen links to cameras placed around the Sorento’s exterior for a full 360 degree look around. Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Emergency Stop Signal are all on board. AEB is standard throughout the Sorento range.The Sorento’s exterior has been mildly massaged from the previous model, with slight changes to front and rear bumpers. There’s adaptive LED headlights in the GT-Line, with leveling and swiveling adding to night-time safety. There’s LED running and fog lights fitted, and the rear lights are also LED. The nose is bluff and smooth at the same time, with a subtle curve to the headlight’s upper edge on either side of the black & chrome grille.

Exterior colours are of a seven colour choice, with one (Snow White Pearl) being exclusive to the GT-Line. Otherwise there’s Clear White, Silky Silver, Metal Stream, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue, and the Aurora Black as seen on the test vehicle. There’s the standard seven year warranty and the capped price service intervals as well.

At The End Of the Drive.
Kia continues to go from strength to strength with is vehicles and the Sorento GT-Line is no different. Heaps of room, a broad range of family related features, and a family lifestyle oriented drive characteristic are big winners. The off road capability, a capability unlikely to be explored, from a front wheel drive SUV, place it ahead of its most likely competitor for moving people, Kia’s own Carnival. The better than expected fuel economy comes with a caveat: the test drive was with most one passenger, not a family and cargo.

At around the $60K drive-away point, it’s against Hyundai’s Santa Fe, Volvo’s XC40 and XC60, and models from Germany in regards to the intended buying market. Until all other makers standardise a seven year warranty then Kia will win straight away on that. As flexible as the interior is, it needs a lift visually. The DAB tuner needs a sensitivity boost whilst the lane assist service needs the opposite.

Make up your own mind by heading to Kia Australia website – Sorento to check out the 2019 Kia Sorento range.

Greeted With Raptorous Applause: Ford Ranger Raptor

Anticipation can lead to either joy or disappointment. When it comes to the long anticipated Ford Performance Vehicles Ranger Raptor, so far it’s looking more of the former. Here’s what we know.

Engine: a 2.0L diesel provides peak power of 157kW and 500Nm (1750 – 2000 rpm)and means the Raptor will have plenty of bite, thanks to a bi-turbo system that will drink from a 80L tank. It’s EURO V compliant at 212 gr/km, will be offering a 8.2L/100 km fuel economy for the combined cycle, and see a top speed of 170 km/h. with a 0-100 km/h time of just over ten seconds. Good figures from a 2.3 tonne machine before fuel and passengers. The transmission is a ten speed (yes, ten speed) automatic with ratios picked to ensure quicker shifts and to be as close as possible to the right gear for the throttle setting. It’s good enough for a 2500 kilo towing (braked) figure.Chassis: 283mm of ground clearance, a broader track than the standard Ranger at 1710mm front and rear, and 285/70/17 wheels & BF Goodrich All Terrain rubber, specially made for Raptor, combine with composite material front fenders and a bumper with integrated LED fog lamps to provide an assertive on and off road presence. Turning circle is a tight 12.9 metres. The load tray is 1743mm in length and 1560mm in width on a 5398mm long body. Maximum width is2180mm with the mirrors out.Inside: a bespoke interior with blue stitching, leather highlights and “technical suede” for extra lateral grip, a rejigged look to the instrument bezel, and perforated leather sections on the steering wheel make for a classy cabin environment.Ride and Drive: There’s a Terrain Management System, TMS, which includes a Baja mode. This sharpens up the engine and transmission and blunts the intrusion of the traction control to give a driver a real off-road experience. It’s a pair of Macpherson struts up front and Ford’s tried and true Watts linkage at the rear.Brakes: Plenty of swept area on the discs means plenty of stopping power.332mm x 32mm up front and 332mm x 24mm at the rear meet a 54mm caliper. They’re bolted to Position Sensitive Dampers that provide, at full extension and compression, a higher level of rebound force. Mid range damping force is specifically tuned for comfort during normal driving.

Extras: A “breadcrumb” feature in the satnav allows drivers to backtrack the way they came when in areas that may not be included in the mapping system. There’s a Rollover Mitigation System to deal with the 32 degree approach, 24 degree departure, and 24 degree break over angles.

DRIVER ASSISTANCE AND CONVENIENCE TECHNOLOGIES
Adjustable speed limiter, Auto lighting, 25W HID headlights with LED Daytime Running Lamps, LED Fog Lamps, cruise control, Electronic Automatic Temperature Control, Electronic Stability Control, Passive Entry Passive Start (PEPS), Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Hill Start Assist (HAS), Hill Descent Control (HDC), ESC system with Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Load Adaptive Control (LAC), Roll Over Mitigation (ROM), Traffic Sign Recognition, Steering Wheel Paddle Shifters, Part time 4×4 with Terrain Management System, Unique Transmission Calibration and “Live in Drive” Functionality, rain sensing wipers, rear view camera, Roll Stability Control
SYNC 3 with touchscreen navigation, Auto Start/Stop.